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AF oriented question concerning Canon and Nikon
I'm about to make the leap into the world of dlsr. Before everyone rolls their eyes, says "not another one" and goes to the next thread, hopefully I can ask you all a possibly contentious question....

I want the camera for landscapes, family, experimentation and, most importantly, shooting wildlife. This last category includes safari type animals, BIF and also my better half and her friends as they ride horses in the great outdoors and indoor arenas. The indoor arenas can vary in lighting but are typically no worse than a reasonably lit room..

I'm fairly experienced in photography having owned a Canon Powershot or two for a number of years and used their "non-auto" settings. I also read a fair bit about how to use dslr cameras and I really want to learn more about it all too..

I've basically narrowed it down to two cameras and they are, surprise, surprise, the Canon 40D and the Nikon D300. I can see you all rolling your eyes again...! I know enough (I hope) to be able to use the Nikon straight off even though it has no scene modes..

I've been browsing these forums and it would appear that the Canon can have the odd problem with AF on the 40D - a few people can't get BIF to focus properly and some have either gone back to their previous generation Canon dslr to get good photos again. I've not found that many documented bad experiences with the Nikon AF but then it's perhaps a bit newer..

Anyway, to get to the point, which of the two cameras would you all recommend and, perhaps more importantly, what lens recommendations would you give?.

Thanks in advance and sorry if you've heard it all before - I guess everyone thinks their situation is just that little bit different!..

Comments (10)

Sorry for my ignorance, but what does BIF mean?.

Thank you!.

Claude Carrier..

Comment #1

Ccarrier wrote:.

Sorry for my ignorance, but what does BIF mean?.

I believe it means "birds in flight" although I could be wrong as I'm new to a lot of the abbreviations....

Rick..

Comment #2

Questions like this are really difficult. You've picked two similar mainstream cameras that will fill your needs. I recommend Canon only because you have experience with their menu logic..

I believe lens purchases grow out of usage. Learn your camera on the kit lenses. As you learn you will begin to understand what is missing from your're choices..

Have fun and take lots of pictures..

REd..

Comment #3

I have the D300, but the 40D is a good camera too. Either one will do what you want. I suggest you go feel them...buy the one that feels best..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #4

Since you are also asking about the lens choices..

Personally, I'm a Nikon shooter so that's where my reccomendation goes. The D300 has almost the same AF system as the pro level D3. The 51 point AF system is a leap beyond what the Canon 40D has (I'm pretty sure.) and works like a champ..

Capturing BIF is as much about technique as camera/lens choice. But I would strongly reccomend that whichever body you go with, you choose lenses with built in focusing motors as they are faster to focus. (USM for Canon and AFS for Nikon).

Depending on the size of the birds you want to photograph, I'd say get at least a 70-200 f2.8 lens or better yet, 200-400 f2.8. But beware...these lenses are heavy and expensive..

That's my two cents worth..

Chefziggyhttp://www.pbase.com/chefziggy/lecream..

Comment #5

Doesn't matter, although in both cases you are wasting money..

Your projects are extremely difficult and won't be solved by technology talent and skill will get involved..

As for flying birds what kind? It's not that hard to photograph a pelican twnety feet away landing on a fishing dock in Florida but it is very hard to shoot a falcon 200 feet away diving on an angle so that the distance is closing..

Both are easier than shooting a barrel racer at forty-five degrees inside an arena after dark, which will actually be a lot darker than you might think..

You're requirements are excessive..

Why not start with a decent camera Nikon D80, new Canon Rebel XSi, and if budgt permits, the expensive 70-200 f2.8 lens from Nikon, Canon or Sigma, and learn to use it..

LAter on, you can buy a more expensive body if yo really want to. In the meantime, any less-than-good pictures will just be steps on the learning curve..

BAK..

Comment #6

BAK wrote:.

Doesn't matter, although in both cases you are wasting money..

Your projects are extremely difficult and won't be solved bytechnology talent and skill will get involved..

As for flying birds what kind? It's not that hard to photograph apelican twnety feet away landing on a fishing dock in Florida but itis very hard to shoot a falcon 200 feet away diving on an angle sothat the distance is closing..

Both are easier than shooting a barrel racer at forty-five degreesinside an arena after dark, which will actually be a lot darker thanyou might think..

You're requirements are excessive..

Why not start with a decent camera Nikon D80, new Canon Rebel XSi,and if budgt permits, the expensive 70-200 f2.8 lens from Nikon,Canon or Sigma, and learn to use it..

LAter on, you can buy a more expensive body if yo really want to. Inthe meantime, any less-than-good pictures will just be steps on thelearning curve..

Buying two cameras is MUCH more expensive than buying one camera that you can keep for a while..

D300, 17-55 and 70-300 are my suggestions. You will be set up for a while. unless you really like the way the D40 fits into your hands better and the menus are easier for you to use. Always buy the best lenses you can afford. You will use them on several camera bodies..

Chris, Broussard, LA..

Comment #7

Yrhombus wrote:.

I want the camera for landscapes, family, experimentation and, mostimportantly, shooting wildlife. This last category includes safaritype animals, BIF and also my better half and her friends as theyride horses in the great outdoors and indoor arenas. The indoorarenas can vary in lighting but are typically no worse than areasonably lit room..

Your two biggest hurdles (no pun intended if your better half and her friends actually ride horses through those obstacle courses) are the indoor arenas and the flying birds..

A reasonably lit room is a horrible place to capture action, in part because it's not all that reasonable when you're hoping for shutter speeds greater that 1/500 of a second..

As other posters mentioned, the flying bird question also depends on what bird and how far away (sadly there are no 200-400 2.8s available that I'm aware of)..

I'm more of an available light guy than I am a wildlife guy. From what I've seen, many of the wildlife photographers seek out lenses that would be too long for most sports photographers..

But, based on the horse needs (and keeping your better half happy will certainly help justify the cost) you're going to need to marry whichever camera you choose to a 2.8 zoom..

The secondary bird lens depends on your budget and how far away you expect to capture bird images..

Spec out the price of the 40D with Canon's 70-200 2.8 and the D300 with Nikon's 70-200 2.8. Both fine lenses, by the way. Can you consider Sigma's 70-200 2.8 or Tamron's newly announced 70-200 2.8? Sure, providing they focus just as fast. If you can, put both camera and lens combos in your hand and decide which feels better to you, balance and heft wise (I can't picture a time when a flying bird could be best captured on a monopod)..

Anecdotally, at the paper where I work one of the photographers (a Canon loyalist) tested both the D3 and D300, since the paper is a Nikon user and we're considering upgrades. He was happy with the focus tracking on both. He'd still rather have the Canon but I'm convinced that the Canon-Nikon split makes Chevy-Ford seem like a non-issue..

In my opinion, examining 10-plus MP images at "pixel size" or "100 percent" crops on a computer monitor is a great way to pick apart any camera (probably even digital Hasselblads). And just as there's "human error," your AF camera (internal motor or not) is still focusing a lens and there will be some tolerance for error..

Now, you could easily start lower on the feature set (D80, digital rebel, etc) with your camera, as one poster suggested but I'm figuring you already discounted those cameras..

Good luck with your choices..

'Nice pen, bet you write good stories with it.'..

Comment #8

Of the two 70-200 f/2.8 lenses with image stabilization, the Canon is 'merely' very good, while the Nikon is superb, one of the best lenses (certainly zooms) that Nikon has ever produced. That may aid your decision....

Alex.

Http://alexandjustine.smugmug.com/..

Comment #9

Thanks for all the replies..

Sorry I wasn't more detailed in my BIF requirements. I'm in the south of England and we have, of late, had a plentiful population of Red Kites. They were re-introduced to the area a few years back and they are now doing really well. I think most of you guys are from the US and I've no idea if you have these birds over there but they are really beautiful and can actually fly quite close to people - in fact they are more plentiful near populated areas, no doubt because we leave a lot of food out. But usually they'll be up to 500 yards away at a guess. They are quite large - 3 feet wing span if not more..

In response to some of the other replies:.

I'm inclined to go for the better camera body to start with rather than something like a Rebel or a D80 seeing as I can afford the higher specification and, based on the lens recommendations, it makes a relatively small difference in overall outlay for the equipment. I have tried a few of the bodies out in the shops and I definitely prefer the feel of the more solidly built ones..

I am a little suprised that my requirements could be thought of as really demanding but that's why I thought I'd better ask people in the know - to avoid making a mistake really. I was sure that a dslr would be a significant benefit over a P&S and your replies have encouraged me to continue in this direction..

Thanks again for your help. It's very much appreciated..

Rick..

Comment #10

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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